Epic Natural Landscapes Found Within One Day’s Drive of Calgary

With winter just around the corner its probably fair to say that those of us with a bad case of wanderlust are already considering how we’ll get our fix of travel and adventure over the holidays.

Fancy some winter sun? Or a cabin in the snow? How about making the most of the autumnal colours of fall and exploring Canada’s beautiful natural wilderness?

Epic hiking, picturesque camping spots, and enough panoramic views to keep your Instagram feed on fire for months, the country is blessed with a wealth of must-see sights. However, rent a car in Calgary and base yourself in the cosmopolitan capital of Alberta, and you’ll find you’ve got National Parks a-plenty right on your doorstep.

Here are some of the best:

BANFF NATIONAL PARK

 The stunning Glacier Parkway

Discovered by rail workers who were working in the area in the late 1800s the hot springs of Sulphur Mountain are just a 90 minute drive from the city. Offering the ultimate in Canadian wilderness adventures the National Park, which was established in 1885 making it theoldest in Canada, has remained one of the iconic sights to see in the country.

Check out the majestic views of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in autumn when the skies are clear and the snow capped peaks glisten in the sun.

TOP TIP: Weekdays are ideal if you’d like to avoid the crowds.

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CAVE AND BASIN NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

On the edge of the town of Banff you’ll find a small museum that illustrates how the discovery of the springs of Sulphur Mountain inspired the entire system of Canadian National Parks.

Although the smell of Sulphur can at times be a little overwhelming the beauty of the caves and the views from the observation deck are well worth the short walk from town.

TOP TIP: The site if open seasonally from May 15- October 15

YOHO NATIONAL PARK

An epic snapshot Lake O’hara 

An adventure lover’s paradise Yoho National Park is around a 2.5 hour drive from Calgary. Boasting 28 peaks over 3,000 meters high, and over 4,000 kilometers of rugged hiking trails its no surprise that in the local dialect of Cree “yoho” is an expression of awe and wonder.

The famous Kicking Horse River makes its way through this part of eastern British Colombia and has carved notable falls on route, namely the Wapta Falls, nicknamed the “Niagara of Yoho” thanks the volume of water that passes over it each day.

TOP TIP: Don’t neglect to visit the view points that overlook trains entering the Spiral Tunnels on Kicking Horse Pass or visit Takakkaw Falls, some of the highest in Canada.

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WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK

Although a slightly longer drive from the city,around three hours, Waterton Lakes National Park should definitely feature on your Calgary road trip itinerary. Likened to a less developed version of Banff the park’s thundering waterfalls and wide open meadows offered unbridled natural beauty.

For those looking for a snapshot of life in the region, the Lower Bertha Falls route is a great option. The 1.5 hour route takes you to a cascading “bridal veil” waterfall and offers alpine views in abundance.

TOP TIP: Hike the route in early June to see carpets of glacier lilies and bear grass line the ground or pitch a tent in town and visit the Waterton Wildflower Festival which runs annual at the end of the month.

KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK

Incredible alpine views from inside the park

Just under a two hour drive from Calgary you’ll discover Kootenay National Park which encompasses a wealth of varied terrain to explore. On it’s northern edge you’ll find mountain canyons carved out by raging waterfalls, while its southern tip is swathed in grasslands complete with cacti.

Tackle the Marble Canyon Hiking route and witness the forces of Mother Nature at play where glacial waterfalls sculpts the canyon rock or just relax in the naturally heated pools of the Radium Hot Springs.

TOP TIP: Keep within the boundaries of the trail as steep drop offs litter the landscape.

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If you’re planning to road trip from Calgary there are plenty of natural wonders that could feature on your itinerary.

Have some suggestions of your own? Leave a comment to help other travellers plan their BC adventure!

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